Malcolm Brogdon can still envision himself playing for the team that drafted him, running the floor with Giannis Antetokounmpo and contending for the Eastern Conference crown.
But that place didn’t exist during the 2019 offseason, according to the former Kia Rookie of the Year. Instead, Brogdon left the 60-win Bucks for the up-and-coming Pacers via a sign-and-trade deal — one made easier by the $85 million contract Indiana offered.
On Sunday, Brogdon returned to Milwaukee for the first time. What would have happened had the Bucks kept Brogdon is a moot point in his eyes.
“I would’ve loved to play for this team, if they had wanted me,” Brogdon told reporters before the Pacers’ eventual 117-89 loss. “If they had valued me the way the Pacers value me. That’s all I gotta say.”
Ahead of Malcolm Brogdon's return to Milwaukee, he spoke to reporters outside of the locker room. In a perfect world, would he have stayed? “I would’ve loved to play for this team, if they had wanted me. If they had valued me the way the Pacers value me. That’s all I gotta say.”
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) December 22, 2019
Instead of playing a role behind Antetokounmpo and one-time All-Star Khris Middleton — whom Milwaukee did pay to keep — Brogdon now leads a 20-10 Pacers team that could get even better when Victor Oladipo returns from a torn quad muscle. The former second-round pick is averaging 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game, all career-highs.
Brogdon missed the final 12 games of last year’s regular season and the first eight playoff games with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He did not return until Game 5 of the second round against Boston, but proceeded to play a vital role for the Bucks before they ultimately fell to Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals.
With Antetokounmpo already signed to a max contract and both Brogdon and Middleton up for new contracts, Milwaukee opted to let Brogdon go and fill in the gaps with Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews, George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo.